Honoring the Heroine: Laura Holt

Remington Steele is one of the few TV-Shows from the 1980s, which I still enjoy to this day. It is also one of the most hypocritical shows I know.

It’s central premise is that Laura Holt, realizing that a female detective will have a hard time to get clients, pretends to have a male boss named Remington Steele. During a case a con-man discovers her little ruse and they eventually strike a deal. From this point onward he is the “face” of the business while she does all the work.

The TV-Show is kind of the same. After all, it is named “Remington Steele” and not “Laura Holt”. Originally it was supposed to be the Laura Holt show nevertheless, at least in terms of her prominence in the story, but the role of Remington Steele was expanded and soon a lot of the advertising was centred around him. Not that I blame the show runners (much), they really stuck gold with Pierce Brosnan as main actor, and the mystery around Remington Steele’s true identity was the only arc they had.  It is nevertheless kind of funny how in the first seasons Laura Holt keeps pointing out that no one trust a female detective while staring in a show which cleverly conceals that it is actually about one. The show even put “Steele” in every episode title.

That doesn’t make Laura Holt less of a good character (or good investigator), though. This is a woman who has a dream, and she will do whatever necessary to fulfil it, even if she has to work around  the prejudices of society. She is successful in her job, smart, and keeps her head in dangerous situations. I also appreciate that she rescues Remington Steele at least as often as the other way around (perhaps even more often).


Naturally there is a love story. I have yet to encounter a show with a non-married male/female pairing as lead which doesn’t fall into the “will they or won’t they” trap sooner or later- though in this case the show at least has the excuse that it was a fairly new trope back then, one which Remington Steele pioneered for the better or the worse. I would say for the worse, because the romance angle tends to undermine formerly great female characters. Even if the writers don’t intend it, the audience will make sure of it being an issue, which often results in females being written as love interests instead of full-fledged characters. To be honest, even though the romance angle was evident early on and I sometimes genuinely enjoyed it, I would have preferred a friendship over a relationship, and the more they played the relationship angle, the more the show suffered for it.

In a TV landscape which didn’t had much to offer in terms of unmarried career women, Laura Holt became a real stand-out character which inspired many women with her determination to follow the career she always envisioned to have, therefore deserving of a spot in my little gallery.

Quote: “It’s a dangerous way to life, but as long as people buy it, I can get the job done.”

Best Episode: 1.19 Vintage Steele (which also happens to be one of the few episodes which deals with Laura’s past)

Best Hat: Laura Holt could really pull of hats and caps, but my favourite is the grey one she wears above.

The show is naturally a must for fans of the main actors, but it’s always a good bet for an amusing hour in general. Despite being set in the 1980s he whole thing also a film noir vibe – but without the depressing ending – which already made it retro back when it first aired and now results in a quite unique double retro mix. Just give the pilot a try. If you watched the show in the 1980s, it’s worth checking it out for the nostalgia factor alone.  


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